Millions of active job seekers in the U.S. struggle to find positions that offer thriving wages and a career path. At Workday Opportunity Onramps yesterday, our inaugural workforce development conference, participants gathered to share ideas and solutions to this serious problem.
“We believe deeply that there is talent everywhere, but opportunity is not,” said Ashley Goldsmith, chief people officer at Workday, to an audience that included professionals in human resources, recruiting, diversity and inclusion, and corporate responsibility roles. “We all have a role to play to make sure we close that opportunity gap.”
Throughout the day, participants discussed the need to fix hiring practices so that companies can better identify people with the potential to be great employees, even if they don’t fit the typical mold.
That includes individuals who lack a four-year college degree or degree from a top-tier university, those who’ve gained needed skills in nontraditional ways, and those who have nontraditional career histories due to military service, incarceration, or breaks from the working world to take care of family members.
At the same time, millions of jobs go unfilled across the U.S., with many organizations saying they face skills gaps. Participants discussed how potentially good hires are often bypassed due to weaknesses in how organizations screen resumes, manager and organizational biases toward hiring people who haven’t taken traditional career paths, and lack of training, mentoring, and reskilling opportunities for front-line workers.
Conference participants also announced new initiatives. Yesterday morning, Walmart and Google announced a joint $5 million fund that will support three organizations testing solutions in reskilling the American workforce and matching skills to roles: the Drucker Institute, Opportunity@Work, and the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.
“We’re very pleased to announce this morning a series of grants to grow our efforts to support opportunity onramps for people,” said Gayatri Agnew, senior director at Walmart, during a presentation with Byron Auguste, CEO and co-founder of Opportunity@Work (pictured above). “It’s not just about entry into work; it’s about life-long learning and skill developing. It’s about creating economic opportunity.”
In addition, Workday and Opportunity@Work are collaborating with LinkedIn, Okta, PwC, Salesforce.org, Symantec, and Walmart to launch the Opportunity Onramps community. As community members, these companies will help connect their employees to workforce development volunteer opportunities, such as providing mock interviews, resume reviews, job shadowing, mentoring, and more.